A harmonious twist on an old favorite with bonus action songs.

READ REVIEW

VOLE AND TROLL

Readers will need to tune their voices before meeting Troll, who guards the bridge leading to “the tastiest grass in the valley.”

When Vole arrives to cross, Troll sings a challenge in his clear, deep voice: “Troll-dee-roll, I’m a troll, / And my favorite food is vole. / With a knick-knack, paddywhack, / Better pay the toll, / or you’ll end up in my bowl!” But hungry Vole can’t pay, and the battle of wits begins. Luckily, Troll knows only one song, so Vole teaches him a new one. Three times, Troll gets so caught up in each new action song—children will recognize these storytime standards and join in—Vole teaches him that the anthropomorphic creature successfully sneaks over the bridge for “a feast of grassy greens.” But on Vole’s fourth visit, Troll snatches him by the tail. Knowing he is destined for Troll’s bowl, Vole begs for one last Troll song. In an unexpected twist, Vole joins “in with a sweet, high harmony,” and together they fill “the valley with music so enchanting that fish [spring] from the creek, flapping their fins with pleasure….Even the songbirds [hush] to listen.” Understandably, as part of their new friendship, Vole insists on rewriting Troll’s challenge song. Watercolor, colored pencil, and ink illustrations enhance the emotional subtext to this revised fairy tale.

A harmonious twist on an old favorite with bonus action songs. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-885-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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